How Not to Capture a Ship Launch

If you ever get a chance to photograph or film the launching of a virgin ship hitting the water for the first time, make sure you stay at a safe distance. The short 18-second-video above shows what can happen if you bring your camera a little too close to the action.

The man who captured the video, Jason Bundoff, writes,

Ship side launch goes wrong resulting in a debris filled wave taking me and my camera out.

The ship in the video is the Reuben Lasker, a fisheries survey vessel is owned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It was launched in Marinette, Wisconsin on June 16, 2012.

The video shows that wood from the cradle holding the ship disintegrated as the ship dropped into the water, and that the powerful splash projected the wooden planks toward the dock.

According to the Daily Mail, Bundoff escaped with scratches and bruises. MSN reports that NOAA will no longer be letting spectators stand as close to the launch in the future.


Here’s NOAA’s official video showing the ship launch, captured from the other end of the ship:

As you can see, there were photographers and cameramen on the other end as well, but there wasn’t a powerful splash (and/or flying debris).

(via Reddit and F Stop Lounge)

  • Northbound

    Lucky guy pulling off a slightly stupid move. BUT – that frozen frame with the debris suspended in the air is pure gold :) I’d like to see someone recreate a shot like that in real life without it involving launching a ship or some such thing.

  • Eric Calouro

    That is terrifying!

  • bri

    whoa! that dude is lucky.. could have ended a lot worse. Look at those very pointy pieces of wood.

  • Mantis

    I’m watching this, and i’m thinking “Wow, I bet there’s going to be a lot of water displacement…”

  • A.J.

    Well that escalated quickly.

  • Frank Martinez

    Surprised they let the photog stand there. Surprised the photog didn’t wonder “why is no one else standing here?”

  • Bill

    Good place for a remote

  • caltek

    I was expecting a wave of water. That actually scared me a bit. Crazy.

  • Rob S

    Exactly. You dont have to be a rocket surgeon to figure out that the back – square – end is going to push a lot of water. On the other hand there is no way that stuff should have been left on the pier side to become accelerants.

    An even bigger safety violation was allowing him to be so close to the mooring line (rope). Had that broken he could have been cut in half.

  • Mansgame

    lucky to be alive…any one of those pieces of wood could have killed him.

  • Rg

    Cribbing at the back to the ship is just stacked in place. It always flies out when the ship it’s the water. Standing behind the ship is pure insanity.

  • bgrady413

    I was once blown completely backwards about twenty feet by the engine starting of a restored B17 Bomber. Got it all on tape, the build up to it was great, in the background you could hear the planes ground crew laughing at me, no one said I was too close. I instinctually had grabbed the camera and tripod and when I landed I was turned 180 degrees and running in the other direction, what a feeling, one I don’t really want to do again.
    This poor guy had to have some sort of injury.

  • Joshua Morin


  • Bob

    What a bizarre way to launch a ship.

  • Dogg

    I don’t think that was the stuff left on the pier, but the wooden structure that was holding up the boat on land.

  • BeenThereDoneThat666

    Actually, it’s a quite common way. Has been done for many years. There is plenty of pictures and video out there to support this.

  • Mantis

    How do you usually do it?

  • Vin Weathermon

    They’ve done it this way for almost 300 years. This was flukish with the broken wood…

  • Matt

    He did not get the hint that everyone else was at the front of the ship?

  • thingwarbler

    That still frame is almost worth the ordeal… I was looking at the hose on the ground assuming it was coiled around his legs and about to yank him into the water. It’s amazing how careful you have to be as a photographer to remember to pay attention to your surroundings while your head is deep inside the little black box in front of your face…

  • Andrew

    They are not broken bits of wood, but wedges [chocks] used between the ship and the cradle it is sitting on. As the boat hits the water, the cradles loosens and the force of the water propels this forward…Hit in the right place he could have easily been killed, looking at the sharp edges of some of those pieces…

  • BarkingGhost

    Rocket Surgeon? I’ve heard of Rocket Scientist and Brain Surgeon. How they get those rockets into the operating room?

  • minecraftgames

    hope no one have any problems, I see a lot of woodwork piece out

  • Bryansix

    Seems like an out-dated way to launch a ship.

  • j

    mind like a steel trap